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NAMM 2017: Slate VRS-8 Audio Interface and ML-2 Microphone

February 07, 2017 3 translation missing: en.blogs.article.read_time

The VRS-8 (Virtual Recording Studio) is the next step forward for Slate, following their Virtual Microphone System: The VMS-ONE pre-amp and ML-1 microphone.
VMS technology provided you with an exceptional reference pre-amp and microphone, that could then be modeled to become a number of different vintage mic’s and pre’s via the included Slate Digital software. VMS technology brought this vintage gear into your studio, suite or bedroom.
The VRS-8 and ML-2 offer the same solution, except you now have 8 x VMS-ONE mic-pre's included in a high-performance native-based Thunderbolt 2 or PCIe interface. The interface will be bundled with up to 5 x ML-2 microphones. You will also be able to purchase both separately too. Slate Digital are also including their "Everything" software bundle free for a year too!
Steven Slate has said that the inspiration behind VRS 8 was the ability to bring an entire studio’s worth of vintage gear to a laptop. The VRS-8 has been over 2 years in development. Slate maintain they have spared no expense in assembling the VRS-8, stating that it rivals any audio-interface on the market for sound quality and performance.

Slate VRS-8
The VRS-8 is a native based system that incorporates software modeling of vintage microphones and pre-amps. It has been designed to compete with DSP based audio-interface / software recording solutions.  

VRS-8 Audio Components and Connectors:

Slate Digital claim they have sought out the highest quality, next-gen components in designing the VRS-8 interface. Along with the eight VMS-ONE pre-amp’s, the VRS-8 also has two instrument inputs and 2 discrete headphone outputs on the front panel. The back plate houses the XLR connectors, along with Word-Clock and MIDI.

VRS-8 Performance and Specifications:

AKM 5578 convertors with 124dB of dynamic range on each analog input  
OPA 1612 Op-Amps on all I/O
WIMA capacitors across all I/O
Slate Digital designed headphone amplifiers
JFET Preamp design for the instrument inputs
Extremely low jitter due to the XTC satellite-grade clocking system
0.7 ms latency @ 96kHz via Thunderbolt
Slate Digital VRS-8 close up
The VRS-8 has dedicated analog gain-pots on each channel for ease-of-use. 

VRS-8 Total I/O:

Slate Digital VRS-8 Rear Panel
8 x VMS-ONE Ultra-Linear Mic-Pre's with XLR/TRS connectors, phantom power, pad-switch and gain-pots.
2 x Instrument/Line Inputs
8 x Analog TRS Outputs
2 x Discrete Headphone Outputs on 6.5mm jacks
1 x Wordclock I/O
1 x MIDI I/O

Support for Windows, New AND Old Mac’s:

Slate Digital VRS-8 rear panel
The HDMI port on the rear panel connects to PCIe.

The VRS-8 is equipped for the latest Intel based Mac’s, being fitted out with a Thunderbolt 2 ports. There are two Thunderbolt 2 ports on the VRS-8, making daisy-chaining with other Thunderbolt devices possible. For Windows users, the VRS-8 also has an HDMI port that connects to a purpose-built PCIe card. We’re unsure at this stage weather or not the VRS-8 will be sold as two separate models, or if you will have the option to use either protocol. The good news for owners of older 5.1 Mac Pro's, is the PCIe / HDMI option will have OSX drivers too! Slate claim that the same audio-interface performance specs are apparent using the PCIe card.

Virtual Analog Software:

The VRS-8 is a native based system. Steven Slate claims, that DSP based solutions are becoming obsolete due to the power to run more plugins more efficiently with current computing systems. In the video above he demonstrates 40 instances of the FG-73 (1073 sound-alike) using less than 5% CPU using Pro Tools on a 2016 Mac Book Pro.
Slate Digital plugin demo

The ML-2 Microphone:

Slate Digital ML-2

The ML-2 is the second reference / modelling microphone from Slate. It looks like a pencil mic, and can be used simulate mic’s such as the 414, U67, U47 FET, and and even dynamic and ribbon mic’s including the SM57, 421 and R121. The ML-2 also features an attenuation switch, that effectively re-polarises the capsule to function as a dynamic mic. This enables the ML-2 to be used on high SPL sources such as kick-drums, guitar/bass amps etc.

Slate Digital Virtual Microphone Software
Screenshot of some of the classic microphones that Slate Digital modeled for the ML-2 / VRS-8 system. At around 22-23 mins, these are demonstrated in the video with a live band.

Pricing & Availability:

Still a few months away from reaching Australia. Pricing here at this stage will be $ 3099 for the VRS-8 by itself, $ 249 for the ML-2, and $ 3799 for the VRS-8 & 5 x ML-2 microphones.
Slate Digital VRS-8 and ML-2 bundle

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